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Fluorescence Alternatives to Popular Biological Assays: Caco-2, hERG, Radioligand Binding, and Chromium Release

As science evolves, new technologies and methods are continuously created that supplant older, outdated methods. The main reasons to replace outdated applications are: to save money, to save time, and to be safer. If a new application can do all three, its chance of successfully replacing an older technology greatly increases.


PHERAstar FS microplate reader from BMG LABTECHIn the last decade, the microplate reader has become a multi-mode, multi-functional instrument that is used routinely in most laboratories. As such, the number and type of microplate based applications have grown tremendously. A number of these applications use the Fluorescence Intensity, Fluorescence Polarization or Time-Resolved Fluorescence detection mode in a microplate reader. These fluorescent based applications tend to be more cost effective as well as safer than classic radioactive applications, for instance. Here we highlight four classic applications that can be measured on one instrument using fluorescence detection methods.

Now with the PHERAstar FS microplate reader from BMG LABTECH, there are safer, faster, and more cost-effective alternatives to the Caco-2 cell-based assay, the hERG patch clamp binding assay, receptor radioligand binding assays, and the radioactive chromium release assay (to name a few). Money will be saved by not buying specialized equipment for each assay. Time will be saved compared to whole cell Caco-2 assays and patch clamp hERG binding assays. In addition, fluorescence material is safer and less expensive than radioactive material for receptor binding or chromium release cytotoxicity assays.

Details of these alternative applications can be found in several PHERAstar FS application notes:

A faster, more reliable alternative to the Caco-2 study is the Fluorosome®-trans-PGP assay from the Fluorosome Company 

This application, using purified PGP protein in liposomes, occurs in minutes rather than days and is specific for just the PGP protein 

A more cost-effective, faster alternative to the hERG patch clamp assay is the Predictor® hERG cellular FP assay from Life Technologies

This application saves money and time by allowing potential drugs to be prescreened before undergoing more tedious patch clamp screening

Safer, more cost-effective alternatives to radioligands for receptor binding assays are fluorescent-labeled ligands from CellAura

These whole cell ligand competition assays can now be performed without the use of dangerous, radioactive ligands.

A safer alternative to the radioactive chromium release assay is the Delfia® cyototixicity assay from Perkin Elmer

This assay uses safer, time-resolved fluorescence material to measure cell mediated cell death.


These are just a few of the many fluorescent applications that have been developed on the PHERAstar series of microplate readers. The flexibility, sensitivity, and multi-functionality of the PHERAstar enables microplate based applications that were previously not possible.

Learn more about the PHERAstar FS, the Gold-standard for microplate readers, at www.bmglabtech.com.


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